Hoax Web Sites

Here are some fun web sites for you to use with your students to teach them not to believe everything they see or read on the web.  I use these with middle school classes, then afterwards I show them some optical illusion images to reinforce the idea that everthing is not always what it appears to be.

Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus  works particularly well because it is a clever blend of fact and fiction. On the LHS there are always very recent news items about cephalopods, and most of the links take students to real websites. It is not until they start to dig further into the site that they realise that some parts of it are pretty silly. Then if you get them to type ‘Lyle Zapato’ (site author) into Google, the following result comes up, which of course proves conclusively that the site is a hoax.  http://zapatopi.net/zapato/ 

Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus      http://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/

POP! The First Male Pregnancy      http://www.malepregnancy.com/

California’s Velcro Crop Under Challenge       http://home.inreach.com/kumbach/velcro.html

Dihydrogen Monoxide       http://www.dhmo.org/

Drop Bears       http://www.geocities.com/muirnin/db.htm   http://www.cfr.com.au/dropbears/index.html  http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/animals/comments/19/ 

Brittny Spears Guide to Semiconductor Physics     http://britneyspears.ac/lasers.htm




Free Banner Maker

If you’re looking to create different titles and banners, you’ll have heaps of fun with this easy-to-use site where you or your students can make horizontal or vertical banners or buttons for your web pages, PowerPoint presentations, digital scrapbooks etc.


There is an impressive number of different fonts to choose from, and you can use single or double colours as backgrounds or even upload an image for your background (this doesn’t work well for a wide banner however). 


Boolify – Boolean Searching


This is a visual, interactive site which is good for illustrating to younger and middle school students the value of using Boolean search techniques. It could also be used as an introduction for senior students for a lesson on searching online databases.

To use it, you drag and drop coloured puzzle pieces onto the board – green for your search terms, blue for ‘and’, red for ‘not’.  As each piece is placed on the board, the number of results is shown below, along with the list of results.  Students can easily watch the number of results decrease each time they place a new piece on the board, which effectively shows them the benefits of using multiple search terms and Boolean operators.

The site also has a couple of lesson outlines for teaching Boolean logic, as well as links to videos on YouTube and TeacherTube.

DailyLit: Read Books by Email or RSS




DailyLit is a site where busy people can sign up to receive short installments of books via email or RSS feed.  Many of these titles cost money (generally $5-$10), however over 800 titles are completely free!  It’s worth having a look at the site if you don’t have time to sit down and read a book, but have time to read a short 3-5 minute excerpt as you check your email. You can also join the online community and contribute to the forum discussions, as well as adding your own ratings and reviews.

According to the site creators, “We got the idea for DailyLit after the New York Times serialized a few classic works in special supplements a few summers ago. We wound up reading books that we had always meant to simply by virtue of making them part of our daily routine of reading the newspaper. The only thing we do more consistenly than read the paper is read email. Bingo! We put together a first version and began reading “War of the Worlds” and “Pride and Prejudice“. We showed it to friends, added more books and features at their request, and presto, DailyLit was born.”

“You can read your installments wherever you receive e-mail/RSS feeds, including on your Blackberry and iPhone. Installments arrive in your Inbox according to the schedule you set (e.g. 7:00am every weekday). You can read each installment in under 5 minutes (most folks finish in 2-3 minutes), and, if you have more time to read, you can receive additional installments immediately on demand. Our titles include bestselling and award winning titles, from literary fiction and romance to language learning and science fiction.”

If this type of reading doesn’t appeal to you, but you know someone who would appreciate it, you can even give them a gift subscription where each installment arrives at a selected time each day along with a personalized message from you.

Google Tools for Schools

Jennifer Dorman, author of the Digital Storytelling wiki, also has a web page called Google Tools for Schools http://sites.google.com/site/cliotech/

Each page contains video tutorials and supporting links for each of the following:

Digital Storytelling

1.  http://jdorman.wikispaces.com/digitalstorytelling

Digital storytelling is not something that I have tried out yet, but I would love to explore it a bit more. This page is part of a wiki,  Grazing for Digital Natives,  and was created by Jennifer Dorman, an educational consultant and trainer. It covers all imaginable aspects of digital storytelling, including links to:

Online resources and research; Primary source resources; Examples of digital stories; Workshop and conference presentations (uploaded using SlideShare); Scaffolding ideas; Storytelling ideas; Software tutorials; Online video editors; Video hosting; Image editors; Image resources; Audio resources; Image / video mashups; Timeline generators; Comic tools; Mapping tools; Citation resources and copyright information.

2.  http://captura.llanogrande.org/

“We absolutely own our story, and through digital storytelling we generate even greater power, which often leads to personal transformation and by extension, to community change”

3.  http://newtools.pbwiki.com/dst2

Digital Storytelling 2.0: What’s Next?  by David Jakes

“In 2008 and beyond, being a learner means being connected, and that means understanding how to develop connections through online networks.  These connections, and the networks they reside within, form the basis of a personalized learning network that literally can make learning a 24/7 endeavor that involves co-learners and co-teachers from around the globe.  Central to this ability to learn online, to participate online, is the ability to craft messages that have the potential to impact others.  Schools need to prepare students for a lifetime of storytelling through a variety of media, so that students can have a voice, and a voice that is heard.”